Shifting Lions From Gujarat Detrimental to Their Survival: Environment Ministry
NEW DELHI: As debate continues over need for translocation of lions from Gujarat to save from possible extinction, the environment ministry has decided to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court, which is considering a petition related to it, that relocating big cats from their abode could be detrimental to breeding and survival.
The ministry early this month held a meeting of experts, who are part of a committee constituted on directions of the apex court to oversee lion translocation, to discuss the shifting of lions from Gir in Gujarat to Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh in Madhya Pradesh as directed by the SC in 2013.
Gujarat, the only abode of Asiatic Lion in the world, has denied parting with its pride animal saying they face no threat in the state.
The lion estimation by Gujarat in May 2015 has put number at 523 from 419 in 2010. Wildlife experts have said that conservation efforts are needed as lions are under threat and history shows that an epidemic in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania in 1994 wiped off all lions in a few days. This can repeat in Gujarat as high rate of inbreeding and less genetic diversity could make them susceptible to epidemics and make them extinct.
The meeting chaired by Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to decide ministry's reply to the apex court agreed upon that it will not be viable to move lions out of Gujarat.
According to a senior ministry official, after the discussion in the meeting it was decided that the affidavit ministry is expected to file will put facts based on scientific evidence that shifting a group of lion would be detrimental for them.
"Unlike tiger, lions move together in prides and live in social habitat. If we shift a few of the family to other place it could be detrimental to their breeding and survival," said ministry sources privy to the meeting.
Asiatic lion was added in the list of critically endangered species in 2000 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) but was taken off the list in 2005 after their number increased over 250.
With threat looming over existence of lions, the Supreme Court based on a petition in 2013 has asked the MoEF to move 80 lions to Madhya Pradesh from Gujarat but nothing much seem to have moved so far with Gujarat unwilling part with lions knows as pride of the state. The plan for translocation of lions from Gujarat‚s Gir, the world’s only remaining home of wild Asiatic lions, to Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh dates back to 1993-94.